India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) net profit for the third quarter ending December 2009 was Rs30.54bn ($660.7m), a 23.4% increase compared with Rs24.75bn ($535.4m) in the same period the year before.

The increase in profit was attributed to the high price for oil produced and paying 28.6% less fuel subsidy to state retailers to compensate for losses recorded due to selling diesel and petrol below cost.

ONGC said it has provided discounts on the petroleum products and crude oil that it sells to counterbalance fuel sales losses.

In the third quarter, ONGC provided an $18.97 a barrel discount to realise $57.69 a barrel, and subsidy payout stood at Rs34.97bn ($756.5m) compared with Rs48.99bn ($1.06bn) in Q3 2008.

ONGC’s crude oil production in Q3 2009 stood at 6.708 million tonnes, a 3% decrease compared with 6.921 million tonnes recorded in Q3 2008.

Natural gas production increased by 0.05% to 6.457 billion cubic metres in Q3 2009 compared with 6.454 billion cubic metres in Q3 2008.

Production of oil and oil equivalent gas fell by 1.57% to 13.165 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) compared with 13.375mtoe recorded in Q3 2008.

In Q3 2009, ONGC made three new oil and gas discoveries and four gas discoveries, and had drilled 202 development wells and 86 exploratory wells.